Digital Minefield

Why The Machines Are Winning

Life In The Cloud


Seeing the ads on TV (and every other ad-infested medium), you’d think companies like Microsoft want us to move all our computing to The Cloud. (Actually, to Their Cloud.) As if we weren’t already there.

If you spend more time streaming than downloading, you’re already living in The Cloud. If what you’re looking at on your desktop, laptop, smart phone, etc., isn’t stored on that device, then you’re already living in The Cloud.

If what you’re seeing comes from somewhere on the Internet, then you’ve bought into The Cloud. “Wait a Googley-minute,” I hear you objecting. “Where else would I find things?”

Well, once upon a time we created things ourselves and sent them to one another. That was before we had access to the Internet, and through the Internet to one another. Instead of individuals and institutions loosely connected, the Internet became another Big Medium dominated by Big Players.

“So what’s the big deal about The Cloud?” you ask. Think of it in terms of real estate. You know the mantra: location, location, location. In this case, the real estate is all that memory and storage sitting on all those personal devices we use. That’s the real estate we own.

Now look at the big Cloud players. A current list of the top 100 shows Microsoft at 23 and even the oh-so-huge Google only at number 12. While Amazon may be number one, most of the other names in this list are unrecognizable to me and you.

And they want you. OK, not so much you, as millions of you’s, to use their real estate for the things you want to do with your devices. Of course, in this game, you—even millions of you’s—are small potatoes. What the big Cloud players want is millions of organizations to put their data and computing into The Cloud.

Maybe, I’d better reword that. The big Cloud players want businesses, nonprofits, NGOs, and even governments to buy real estate in their Cloud. Amend that: buy or rent. Never ignore rentals.

Where does location come into this game? Isn’t it obvious? The more traffic coming in and out of any big Cloud player’s location, the more valuable the location. Or at least that’s the smoke they’re blowing.

As it is in real real estate, the big Cloud players don’t have to own what they’re peddling. They can be middle-men, wheeling and dealing, pushing their locations as valuable properties.

But the same questions about real real estate still apply. Does this location have sufficient infrastructure? Are the services reliable? Are you being locked in by the high cost of moving? Is the location secure? Will your stuff be safe?

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